German auto parts maker Continental AG said it will forbid its 240,000 employees from using Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp or Snap Inc.’s Snapchat on any of its company-issued mobile devices.
About 36,000 such devices would be affected by the ban, which was provoked by privacy concerns, a Continental spokesman told Bloomberg.
“We think it is unacceptable to transfer to users the responsibility of complying with data protection laws,” Chief Executive Officer Elmar Degenhart said in a statement Tuesday. “This is why we are turning to secure alternatives.”
Privacy has moved from a niche topic to one of the biggest headaches for top bosses. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation went into force last month, forcing everyone from neighborhood restaurants and hotels, to Amazon and Google, to comply — or face penalties as high as nearly $25 million or 4 percent of global annual revenue.
In its statement, Continental said the move is meant to protect its employees and business partners in light of this new regulation. Companies in other markets, such as publishing, that were unable to comply with the law before the May 25 deadline, instead chose to block anyone trying to access their websites from European internet connections.
Continental said it was prepared to lift the ban if the software-makers could update their products to comply with data protection regulations.
Representatives for WhatsApp or Snap were not able to immediately comment. However, both companies have updated their privacy policies since GDPR came into effect.